Lord Saatchi weighs Telegraph move ahead of bid deadline

One of the advertising gurus who helped propel Margaret Thatcher to power is weighing the formation of a consortium to bid for The Daily Telegraph.

Sky News has learnt that Lord Saatchi, the Conservative peer, has been discussing the option of launching an offer for the right-leaning newspapers ahead of a deadline later this month.

Lord Saatchi is said to have been discussing the possibility of assembling a bid with Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a former director of The Economist Group.

City sources said they had approached a number of potential financial backers in recent weeks, although neither could be reached for comment, and people close to the process cautioned that it was far from certain that they would ultimately participate in an offer.

One insider suggested that they were working with investment bankers on an offer, although the identity of any financial investors was also unclear.

Lord Saatchi was one half of the advertising duo who created Saatchi & Saatchi and, later, M&C Saatchi.

His agencies’ work for the Conservative Party was hailed as an important factor in the Tories’ electoral success in the late 1970s and 1980s, although he is no longer actively involved in the business which still carries his name.

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Sky News revealed late last month that prospective bidders for The Telegraph and The Spectator have been told to submit indicative offers by 19 July if they want to take control of the media titles.

The auction of The Telegraph titles and The Spectator magazine has been launched by RedBird IMI, the Abu Dhabi state-backed vehicle which struck a deal earlier this year to take control of the assets.

Its ambitions were thwarted, however, by government intervention amid a backlash over the prospect of a foreign state effectively owning prominent national newspapers.

Labour’s stance on the process has yet to become clear.

The bidders are expected to include Sir Paul Marshall, the hedge fund tycoon, and Lord Rothermere, the Daily Mail proprietor.

David Montgomery’s National World is also likely to be among the suitors, while US-based RedBird may itself also bid alongside other investors.

The fate of The Telegraph, historically a staunch Conservative Party backer, has been up in the air for a year after Lloyds Banking Group seized control of its parent companies after the Barclays fell behind on debt repayments.

The family had owned the Telegraph for nearly 20 years, but has seen a number of its assets fall into financial trouble.

The Barclays continue to control Very Group, the online retailer.

Raine Group, best-known in Britain for its roles in recent deals involving Manchester United and Chelsea football clubs, and Robey Warshaw are advising on the auction of the media assets.

Doubts persist about whether RedBird IMI can expect to recoup the £600m it paid to acquire the call option that would have converted into ownership of the Telegraph.

The newspapers and The Spectator could yet be sold separately, with Rupert Murdoch said to remain among those interested in buying the political magazine.

RedBird IMI declined to comment on Saturday on the interested parties.

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